April 14, 2023
EP. 158 — Sophia Bush
Actor and activist Sophia Bush joins Jameela this week to discuss her love of activism from an early age, their shared frustrations at women being pitted against each other, how to engage with people who are getting very different information than you, finding hope for change, and more.
Check out Sophia’s podcast – Work in Progress – wherever you listen.
Follow Sophia Bush on Instagram & Twitter @Sophiabush
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
Jameela is on Instagram @jameelajamil and Twitter @Jameelajamil
And make sure to check out I Weigh’s Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for more!
158 — Sophia Bush
[00:00:00] Jameela Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast against shame. I hope you’re well and I hope you enjoy today’s episode because you’ve been asking me to interview this guest for years and I’ve been trying. But our schedules have been very difficult to align because she’s very talented and beautiful and cool and kind and humble and in demand and well-informed. And I love her. I’m in love with her. I think that’s what I’ve just realized. I’m in love with her. But her name is Sophia Bush, and she is one of the great entertainers of my generation and someone that I think we are all collectively, madly in love with. During her nine years on One Tree Hill. She has gone on to not only be an actor, but a great podcaster. She’s a wonderful podcast, called Work In Progress, which kind of deals with some of the same issues as this podcast does. And she’s a phenomenal advocate and she has been long before it was cool to use your privilege to speak about important issues back when it was really like career ending to do so. She’s been advocating for controversial issues and recognizing early on that her job is to advocate to the people that look like her, which is privileged white people, rather than making marginalized people do that work. And in this episode, we just have a super laid back warm chat about everything that’s pissing us off, everything we want to do, everything that we both care so much about, the things that we think are problems with our movement or our way, the things that we have so much hope in and the things that keep us up at night. And some of those things are abortion and the politicization of it. And she really gets into the nitty gritty of why that’s become such a hot topic. Why trans and drag issues have become such a hot topic. It’s a conversation that isn’t without its depressing moments, of course, because when talking about injustice, that’s inevitable. But it’s ultimately so hopeful because her optimism just burst through the microphone. And we I promise we end this on a really positive and hopeful and energized note and also just enjoy her wonderful voice, which sounds like eating chocolate for the first time. It’s just glorious. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fabulous Sophia Bush. Hello, Sophia Bush. Welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
[00:02:37] Sophia Good honey how are you?
[00:02:38] Jameela I’m very good. I am so happy to have you here. It has taken so long for us to finally be in the same place at the same time, ish, even though we’re still on Zoom. But you’re a very busy lady, and I’m very excited to see you. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other in person.
[00:02:56] Sophia It has. I, I, it’s funny. I have a group, I think of women like you who I feel so close to, even though when I think about it, I realize I don’t see you that often.
[00:03:07] Jameela Yeah. Yeah. We just sort of see each other in in passing. In fact, I think one of the first times I ever met you, I was. Oh, God, he’s going to kill me. But I was driven to come over to you to say hello to you. Because not only was I, obviously, I grew up a huge fan of yours, but also you were the love of my boyfriend’s life when he was younger. And he, like, froze when he saw you. And I had to, like, take him over to introduce him to you because I was like, That’s what, that’s what a good girlfriend does. Like you don’t.
[00:03:41] Sophia That’s so sweet.
[00:03:41] Jameela Yeah. You don’t get in the way of that moment. And you were so sweet to both of us and so gracious. And I imagine it must be quite weird being, like, an entire generation’s crush.
[00:03:52] Sophia I mean, listen when people are polite about it. It’s quite lovely. Also really fun when, you know, I. I get to meet so many people who identify differently, who have similar loving feelings for my first TV character. So I also really appreciate that she transcends most identity and just seems to be someone people love. It’s actually quite flattering for me.
[00:04:19] Jameela You’re universally hot. That’s what that
[00:04:19] Sophia I was like oh ok.
[00:04:20] Jameela It’s like a Marvel superpower.
[00:04:22] Sophia I’ll take it.
[00:04:22] Jameela Oh my goodness. So, okay, I want to make the most of your time here today because I feel like you and I are so aligned in so many ways and I so love and admire the way that you use your platform and have done for such a long time. Um, you and I were both talking on the phone the other day about how a lot of people think that you just started using your voice when it was trendy. But actually if anyone does due diligence and looks into your history of using your platform long before it was cool or even vaguely acceptable for a woman to speak out about issues, you’ve been on that front line, you know, taking the sort of Jane Fonda approach of trying to make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to help others. We are both actresses. We are both women in the entertainment industry, we’re around the same age we may be up for the same roles, etc., but Me Too being such a large vocal moment specifically for women of all ages meant that we could see each other as friends. You and I have both been in scenarios and our early twenties where we’ve been turned against other women or been told other women are turning against us. We both were manipulated around. The other women who are around us are made to feel like we should be isolated. And as we get older, we realize that that’s a deliberate tool of the patriarchy and not just this industry, but also society at large. They do this at banks, they do this at school, they do this all these different ways to create hierarchies between women that separate each other so that we won’t talk about our common experiences. And so that we won’t grow in power because of the strength in numbers.
[00:05:55] Sophia And the awareness of that lack of logic. When you when you sort of lift the veil and you go, Oh, they want us to be worried about each other, intimidated by each other, to think they want me to think that she is out there picking on me so that we don’t gang up and take the power from them. There are so many more of us in these, you know, quote, oppressed classes. Whether you’re looking at, you know, gender or race economics, there are so many more of us than there are of the people at the top of the hierarchy of the patriarchy. So they are terrified that we are all going to team up and take the power from them and create a more equitable system. But the idea that our system isn’t equitable in the first place is, as you said, completely illogical, because when you create equity, you actually grow the system. It’s not a pie, it’s not a well, if your piece gets smaller, your piece has to get smaller for mine to get larger. No, if if you create equity, the actual pie itself gets bigger, there’s room for everyone. And that’s one of those truths. That’s one of those avenues of logic that I think we are so privileged to be able to use our platforms to talk about day in and day out and bring more and more people into the truth of that reality. Because it’s not just morally right, it’s economically beneficial. When you can, in your soul, know that something is just. And economists say, yeah, and it’s really good for the GDP like. How are we arguing that anything else is an option?
[00:07:31] Jameela Yeah, 100%. And we now see that now that we see that women are more united. Like I said, outside of this industry, like in the world, I notice a change in the way that women receive one another, because I think we realize how much we’ve all collectively been through and that we are not one another’s enemy. Obviously, there’s always still work to do in that area when it comes to infighting. But the target has now been moved. Post-metoo Interestingly, on to trans women where it’s like, Right, well now this is your enemy. This is who to fear rather than, again, that they are then being the vast minority in our society, that they have been now turned into the boogeyman, whereas it used to be other cis women. And and it’s still taking us away from the fact that there’s also a larger system at hand that is oppressing all of us in similar ways and also oppressing men.
[00:08:18] Sophia I think we need to be very, very clear about where this target that is on the backs of trans women comes from.
[00:08:26] Jameela Mm hmm.
[00:08:27] Sophia Sexism. Patriarchy cannot exist without racism. And the people who are the most at risk in the trans community are black trans women. The anti-trans sentiment is a bedfellow of racism. And when we have seen an entire world awaken in the wake of George Floyd, when you see white suburbanites painting Black Lives Matter on their driveways in graffiti and mounting signs on their homes, the white heteronormative patriarchy needs to find a scapegoat that creates such intense feelings that are illogical that they have gone after trans folks so hard because they know that the same anti-black anti-immigrant sentiment that they’ve been able to hold on to power through for the last, you know, generations can be drummed up in a fever pitch against trans folks.
[00:09:26] Jameela Can you make that link between race and and gender phobia?
[00:09:30] Sophia Yeah. So. Let’s be clear that the patriarchy in its top hierarchy is a white, heteronormative patriarchy. Right. Like white men in power. Want to bifurcate the rest of us from each other. White women fall under the illusion that the patriarchy has something for us. It does not. Women, you know, by the age of 22, one in four women in this country has been sexually assaulted. The largest number of perpetrators of that violence are the largest population of men in this country, which are white men. We fall under sexism as a group of women. That is pretty universal regardless of what men look like. But when we’re talking about the top of the pyramid, the highest power structure in our current white, heteronormative cisgendered society, it’s white men who retain the most power, the most economic power. And white women can be terrible agents of the patriarchy. It’s why so many white women voted for Donald Trump. You would rather vote for a man who reminds you of someone who has assaulted you or your father who was a pig. Then you would vote for a white woman who in this world where women have been encouraged to compete against each other, makes you feel less than. There aren’t many of us who have accomplished what Hillary Clinton has accomplished who have her education, who have been the secretary of state. So she can be incredibly triggering to that feeling of I’m not enough if I’m in her company that women have experienced at the hands of the patriarchy. That’s what men have encouraged us to feel around each other, because, again, if we team up, we’re dangerous to them.
[00:11:06] Jameela Well, also, but also I think I think it’s always important to state that like just in the name of balance to prevent anyone then like feeling that something hasn’t been said. Hillary Clinton is also like got had demonstrable things about her that that people fundamentally disagreed with on political levels. However, at the same time, we do not scrutinize men to that same level. So either we need to level the playing field and scrutinize men to the same level. But we cannot have what Hillary has done versus like a predator who’s openly bragging about being a predator before he wins the election.
[00:11:40] Sophia Yes.
[00:11:41] Jameela And who has like a completely like openly racist history of redlining, etc.. It’s this it’s this weird thing where we will vote for the woman if she’s perfect and we will apply the boys will be boys to them, and they all need to be checked.
[00:11:59] Sophia Yes. Well, into your point, if someone if you had taken exactly who she is as a candidate. And put her in a in a man, he would have won.
[00:12:09] Jameela Yeah.
[00:12:10] Sophia And I think it’s just it’s simply important for us to understand the way that we have inhaled patriarchy for our whole lives in the same way that our society has inhaled patriarchy and racism and classism for our entire existence. And something that was really transformative to me as we look at this sort of pyramid analysis, was reading Gloria Steinem’s early work and her talking about the fact that racism and sexism exist together. You know, they’re they’re part of this terrible cycle. And so when we look at a world where the folks at the top have maintained power by othering women and by lying to white women, that they’re not othered. But they certainly are the victims of every terrible thing that they’re doing. And they’ve othered people based on race and gender. And racism has been institutionalized in this country. When you when you start to see huge swaths of people who have been looked at as oppressed classes, whether it’s, you know, women as a whole, whether it’s the LGBTQ community, black folks, brown folks, when all these people stand up and march in the streets and say, Black lives matter, that scary top of the pyramid that’s trying to maintain its power says we need a new enemy. And they’ve made trans women the enemy. And you can’t ignore that in the ways that and anti female sentiment, anti LGBTQ sentiment, anti-black sentiment. They are all linked in this anti-trans sentiment because again, the people who are the most at risk in the trans community who are as a whole the most at risk among us. Within that most at risk community are black trans women. They are the people in the trans community that are getting killed at the greatest numbers that are experiencing violence, at the greatest numbers that are experiencing poverty, at the greatest numbers. And anyone who thinks that all of this anti-trans sentiment is not also anti-black is really missing how deeply entrenched and poisonous the patriarchy is in every cavern of our society. If you are a person who hasn’t been blessed with the privilege of exposure to diverse communities and you have been told by the propaganda that masquerades as a news network that you watch, that there is an evil group of people trying to, you know, convert everybody in the country.
[00:14:30] Jameela By the way, it’s left and right wing media, just to be very clear, like especially in the United Kingdom, like it’s it’s now becoming both. But sorry, carry on.
[00:14:38] Sophia Yeah, oh God I’ve just really started to learn about what’s going on in your home country’s media about this. And I’m horrified.
[00:14:46] Jameela Yeah. Yeah. Today a bunch of my friends who are trans have started making moves to leave by the next election because actual fascism is is rising over there and it’s terrifying.
[00:14:58] Sophia Well, in here too.
[00:14:58] Jameela Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt your your flow is just that when we think of a certain news network, I think we think of one. But actually it’s it’s yeah there’s a growing responsibility.
[00:15:08] Sophia Yes.
[00:15:09] Jameela On on both sides. It’s fascinating that they think 24% of the country is in versus.
[00:15:15] Sophia And so again, taking any venom out of that, I, I could understand how if five years ago you didn’t know a single person who said I am this or I believe this. And then you heard that a quarter of everybody in the country you live in believed in something or or identified as something. I would understand how, again, I make know. To be very clear, I obviously make no excuses for transphobia in any way, shape or form or or any sort of bigotry. And I can say I would understand how that would feel like a wild shift. And you would go, What’s going on here? There are people profiting off of trying to make people afraid of each other. And I think it is evil and terrible and unbearably cruel. And and that there are large groups of people out there telling women, you know, cis women, that trans women are our enemies. Absolutely not.
[00:16:21] Jameela So I think something you were sort of touched, touching on. But I think it’s also like a scary place to go, right, is a mild approach at empathy towards those who have been programed by manipulative media and mostly by social media. You know, we saw I think it was called the Social Experiment, right, That that documentary, that documentary that showed us that actually our algorithms are entirely different and we think we’re all seeing the same thing. But based on what you click on, even if you are clicking on it because you don’t agree with it, you want to watch it. You then get sent algorithmically, more things like that. And that’s how people can descend into ideologies, either extreme left or extreme right. Right. And it’s really important because it has led to us thinking we are all reading the same media, we are all receiving the same exposure. And that’s those who don’t understand it from our perspective are just stupid or evil. Right? And that’s the belief on both sides about each other. And the reason I think it’s really important to to understand that so much of the hatred is is based in ignorance and fear because they are being fearmongered, they are being told all these different things are a contagion. They’re saying that racial equality is really just a slippery slope into revenge for what’s happened to people of color and to minorities for the last many hundred years in the United States of America. There is a terror. There is this feeling of like, they’re going to enslave you now because there’s this knowledge that we did something so horrible to these people that if we empower them. I think I was talking to someone about it the other day that if you like, if you have, let’s say, a dog in a room, right, and you abuse that dog and you keep it in there and you don’t give it light you don’t give it proper food and you you harm that dog’s mental health, You’re not going to fuckin open the door to that dog because you’re worried it’s going to attack you. And I think that’s what they think is going to happen. Whereas all we are asking for is equality. I know I have met almost nobody or read the work of almost nobody who seeks to repeat the patterns in the opposite direction as to the horror that this country has enacted on people.
[00:18:21] Sophia But what I think is so interesting to your point is that and this is what I want to get down to the brass tacks on with people is why do you believe that? And who told you that? You know, again, we just had a paper published this week here in California. The governor ordered a study of what the black Californians who are descendants of the slave trade are owed in reparations. Like what? The what? The wealth gap with every generation’s mistreatment of black people in our state. How has that v on the graph grown? What what’s in the gap? And in 2023, black people in this state who descended from the slave trade 400 years ago are owed $800 billion. And when you think about that, a lot of people go, Well, my family didn’t have it easy and it was really terrible for us. And, you know, your family came here through Ellis Island and you know how hard they had it and ugh and people freak out and it’s like, well, just pump the brakes. A imagine where this group of people could have gone over generations, over 400 years, had that money been infused into their communities. And you know that if it had been infused into their communities, it would have been infused into this economy. Imagine who you or me or any of these other people who might be working for the companies that these families could have started. I wish that we could calm down and remember that if something good happens in our community, it also happens for our community. If something good happens to my neighbor, that good happens to me, something good happens to me. I’d really like to think that it happens to my neighbor and I wish that we could find a way to be together more outside of, as you said, the echo chambers of these algorithms. I wish that we could not jump to immediate panic about being left behind and think about what can be created when more people are welcomed in. And I know that that might sound like a bit of a utopia, but I really believe that it’s the the moral truth and the economic truth. It’s the social science data. It’s as you said, it’s the logic on the other side of the emotion, and it all points in the same direction. And I, I just I don’t have the answer, but I know you think about this too.
[00:20:49] Jameela Well I mean, they don’t have the answers either. They don’t have the answers either, because there’s there’s no sense in being afraid of immigrants coming in and yet forcing birth. We are we are forcing human beings that into situations in which people are not financially or emotionally or psychologically or physically ready to raise them. We have a foster care system that is incredibly noble in its intention, but it is falling apart under the pressure. And that’s before. That was before those figures were before Roe v Wade was overturned. And so there’s no there’s no sense to a lot of these things. And again, I think our current method of and I know I’ve speaking about this a lot lately and everyone’s just got to bear with me, but I do feel like this is a this is a drum that needs to be beaten in that we do need to try to reform the way that we approach those who are already afraid, because the way to handle fear, while I know it’s tempting and I have done it before, I’ve spoken like a total animal to people that I feel so affronted by their beliefs, understandably. But it’s it’s very unhelpful when we shame them. And I understand why we want to. And there are some of them we should, because they are bad faith actors who aren’t coming from a place of fear. They’re coming from a place of upholding their power or they’re upholding their financial gain or increasing their financial gain. Like the, we know who we’re talking about. The pundits, you know, spread hate profits, but the vast majority of the people who are voting against us are not people who are going to profit in any way. They’re only going to suffer from the marginalization of their neighbors. But they are being terrorized and fear mongered by their media and by social media and by the kind of the the increased indoctrination of of fear mongering of anyone who is different from you. Like they are terrified. And we have to find out a way to unpick that fear, figure out where it’s coming from, and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of because they’re not all inherently evil.
[00:22:48] Sophia Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And to your point, I think it can be a really helpful tool when you try to meet someone where they are and welcome them closer to truth is to remember, as you said, that there are entire echo chambers profiting off of propaganda. This isn’t just people who believe one thing because they heard it. They are quite literally being played a tape all day, every day.
[00:23:20] Jameela You saw it outside the Trump rally, right? You saw it in New York. When Trump was indicted. There were people being interviewed and the amount of QAnon jargon that was coming out were sentences that weren’t making sense. And and, again, like, these are people who are older and these videos are mocking of them. But what I saw was not people that I wanted to make fun of. What I saw was just something deeply terrifying in how emotional they were about these just non facts that they are spewing as fact, these huge and detailed conspiracy theories that you can see that you can almost feel their elevated cortisol levels like this is coming from a they’re terrified of of all these random conspiratorial takeovers that are coming. And they’re so radicalized. And as you say, it’s because this has been on repeat all day long. They’re on Facebook, they’re a generation who’s still on Facebook. And it’s unbelievable. Like I have I created a burner account a few years ago to kind of enter the red pill and see what it is that people are saying. After I saw the Social Experiment, I decided to do that. It’s a completely different social landscape.
[00:24:32] Sophia It’s a different universe.
[00:24:33] Jameela To what is is that we’re seeing. Have you changed tact at all in the last couple of years, do you feel like?
[00:24:39] Sophia Yeah, I think I’ve definitely had to learn that getting heated, and then publicly being heated doesn’t do as well as continually massaging the truth. And it’s part of the reason that I try to talk about the moral obligation of inclusivity and building a better society as not just an emotional or moral position, but also a fiscal one. Because people who’ve been raised to think they’re just financial conservatives. I’m using air quotes, just think, well, yeah, you’ve got this nice, flowery moral belief. And I have to say no, this is what the social science data shows about life expectancy. This is what the economists say about the economy. You have to give people tools to know what the truth is in the language that they have been raised to speak. And, you know, it’s it’s why the other day you were mentioning we were on the phone and I was telling you about what a shock it was when the life expectancy map of the United States came out because they they coded the map in red to blue. So it looks like a voting map. Blue states are blue. Red states are red. But it’s it’s the map of life expectancy in these states that overwhelmingly vote for these Republican policies and that ban abortion and refuse to expand Medicaid. And it will not allow for, you know, health care. They have the lowest life expectancy in the country. So the policies that people are being told are, quote, patriotic, that are that are real American that they’re voting for are literally killing them.
[00:26:21] Jameela And it’s that an increased like gun violence, is that just.
[00:26:25] Sophia It’s gun violence it’s health outcomes. It’s it’s all of it. It’s wild to see how all of these things conflate. And, you know, there’s folks who are who are anti-choice crusaders out in the world who really believe that stopping abortion will do great things for the American family. And all it does is put families and children into poverty and lower the length of their lives. And it’s it this is not an emotional position. This is this is data. This is fact. And it’s very hard to pierce through these issues that have been taken up by political parties to create illogical emotional reactions in people. But something that I find really powerful is that when Roe became the law of the land in 1973, the right had nothing to say about it. It wasn’t until six years later when they lost, and I can’t remember what state it was in. They lost their last legal appeal to stop the integration of schools, that they said, well, we need a new issue. So they decided to go after the unborn and they actually lobbied among clergy to change the biblical definition of life, beginning at first breath to life beginning at conception. That was a political move. They have bastardized religion for politics, which shouldn’t matter since the United States is not a theocracy. The entire founding principle of this country is that you get to live as you want and believe what you believe, and you do not fall under the religious law of anybody and they do not fall under yours. The Constitution is it.
[00:28:04] Jameela Well this is why it’s so ridiculous that we have bills that are passing.
[00:28:08] Sophia It’s insane.
[00:28:09] Jameela that are saying that it’s up to clergy to decide who gets to be married. I mean, they’ve gone after interracial interfaith marriage.
[00:28:18] Sophia It’s insane.
[00:28:19] Jameela Not to mention, of course, anti LGBTQ plus so that they’re taking away people’s ability to join in a union of love.
[00:28:26] Sophia So when we talk about the rise of fascism here and around the world, when you talk about the rise of Christian nationalism and a Christian fascist state, we are not being hyperbolic and we are not exaggerating. We are literally witnessing the strangulation of democracy by religious institutions. And it is a wild moment to be in. And when when we talk about how serious this is, when we talk about 100 year cycles, when we talk about, you know, an attempted coup in the twenties, the 2020s, and then the 1920s, that then in the 1930s led to an actual genocide. And we say they’re they’re using all the playbooks from 1920s Germany to 1930s Germany right now here in our country. And people say, Oh, you’re being ridiculous. We’re not. And it’s why I think it’s incredibly important to your point to figure out how to talk to each other, because if we don’t figure out how to be together outside of these silos of propaganda that are in our faces all day long on our phones and computers. I don’t know what’s going to happen to us.
[00:29:36] Jameela Yeah, I’m increasingly terrified. And I also just no one takes into account what could have happened had the 1920s involved social media and the access and the ability to mobilize.
[00:29:47] Sophia Well and the deepfakes and the videos. I mean, I, I had someone who I really care about say to me and I could tell by the algorithm and did a little digging that because this person is a religious Christian that they’re beginning to get fed some things in their socials that are not based in reality.
[00:30:10] Jameela You’re talking about the drag brunches, the insane AI deepfakes of drag brunches showing like a man in a, sorry, showing a person in a thong. I’m not sure of their gender, upside down.
[00:30:21] Sophia Yeah with the exposed silicone and the exposed genitals, and the whole thing.
[00:30:25] Jameela Dancing around babies and children, just to be clear.
[00:30:29] Sophia Yeah. And it’s a it’s not real and it’s propaganda made to demonize a group of people and all the, all the conversations I had about the propaganda and how, how could this get, you know, get into your head and all the things, you know, what finally clicked for this friend of mine? I said, let’s look at drag. Let’s look at the iconography of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to the Birdcage. Let me remind you of my lovely, you know, not blood uncle, but my family uncle Geoff, whose husband Winston did drag, as Diana. Diana Ross every Saturday night, you know, through all of the eighties and nineties. And it’s so fabulous. I said, Have you ever seen a fabulous drag queen? Not in full, perfect laid lace front, incredible makeup. Nothing is exposed. Nothing is shown. What Drag Queen have you ever seen who would let you know what you know, what’s how it’s all made? The whole point is that it’s a perfect, gorgeous costume camp fantasy. And and it clicked for this person like, oh. Oh. Yeah.
[00:31:36] Jameela Did you see, did you see that viral video that’s gone around in the last month of that comedian saying, like, of course, drag queens aren’t abusing children. If they did, those children will be covered in glitter. He was like, you know what we need to do? He was like, It would be the shortest episode of SVU you ever. Like here’s where it is. Here is all the glitter there she is. She did it. And he said, like, you want to protect children. He was like, cover the priests in glitter.
[00:32:03] Sophia Yes. Honestly, genius. You know, what I’ve started doing is every time I see an article about, you know, a bust of the trafficking of children in Texas by clergy members and school principals and, you know, all around the country, this stuff is happening. Every time I see an article on Twitter, I just retweet it and I say, still not a drag queen. Over and over and over. And over and over again. Because I’m trying to prove a point.
[00:32:26] Jameela Dude. The headmaster of my primary school was like a leader in a pedophile gang.
[00:32:32] Sophia No.
[00:32:32] Jameela He used. Yeah, he used to let, like, Gary Glitter come to our school and pick out. And I went to school for vulnerable children where a lot of the children with special needs. I had trouble with my hearing. I had trouble with my joints. Like there were lots of children who had cerebral palsy, like a lot of children, a lot of children with severe ADHD, like a lot of vulnerable kids with not enough carers per kid. And and when he was caught, they found thousands of hours of videos of our students, vulnerable disabled children in his in videos that he’d taken because he was a charming you know, kind of tall well-to-do kind seeming, you know, upstanding member of of our society that no one suspected. And he was a demon.
[00:33:22] Sophia Wow. I’m so sorry.
[00:33:22] Jameela Yeah, it’s it’s really it’s really wild. But this is we are we are looking at the we’re looking at supervised drag brunches and never looking at the unsupervised places where we’ve been told our children are safe. And that’s always where the damage happens.
[00:33:37] Sophia Well and by the way, one of the things is they keep pointing, right? The the the evangelical right and the the far right in American politics. Points, points, points at again, the most vulnerable are LGBTQ communities, trans women. And they say this is the problem. This is the problem rather than these are the people who need the most protection from people like us, the people who are screaming that it’s drag queens that are the problem. You know, 13 of the states trying to outlaw drag brunches right now in America still have legal child marriage. Tennessee just defeated a bill to ban child marriage. The GOP in Tennessee went and fought against making marrying children illegal. This happened this year in 2023. So we are being bait and switched. Our society is not paying attention to the right thing and we’re not paying attention to the people who are doing real evil among us. And all I know how to do to your point in this moment is to keep beating the drum. So I just try to repeat it and every time a new article comes out.
[00:34:44] Jameela Yeah keep pointing out the contradictions keep pointing out the contradictions like the we don’t want to allow children to go anywhere near gender affirming care, otherwise their parents or the doctor can be imprisoned and they can be taken away from their parents. But at the same time, we have no problem if a nine year old is molested by her dad and she becomes pregnant, and she will have to
[00:35:00] Sophia forcing her to have the baby
[00:35:01] Jameela carry, yeah, she will have to carry that baby to term, which will probably and could very much likely kill her or at least derail and destroy her life. So again, it’s just like it doesn’t add up. Like the the fear of, you know, the fear for children around, you know, gender or whatever. But then we have everything to do with, you know, or even like sex education or reading To Kill a Mockingbird. And yet we still have the guns. And the ARs specifically like, I think if you just keep challenging people calmly with contradictions and asking them why, often they unravel, but instead and I’m not having a go at us, but I think by pointing in their face and telling them that they’re just stupid or evil, then we don’t force them to critically think about the answers as to why they’re okay with one and not the other. Why are we worried about transwomen in in prisons with cis women? But we’re not worried about police wardens, male police wardens who are responsible for pregnancies in women’s jails, who are responsible for an unbearable amount of sexual abuse, and probation officers who are able to abuse the women that they oversee with impunity. Because if the woman rejects that man in any way and they are predominantly male, we need to do something about that, then they can be sent back to prison because that person can report that they’ve broken their probation. So it just doesn’t it doesn’t make sense. And it wasn’t making sense to me. And Matt Bernstein who is a fucking wonderful online social justice speaker was saying to me recently that it’s because people are afraid of the society we live in and the oppressive system or the danger is so ginormous. It’s almost like a big intangible mist. And so for our own sanity, sometimes people seek out the boogeyman. They seek out. Well, I’m going to project all my issues onto you, because if I can tangibly destroy you, I have some feeling of control and autonomy. And then I feel like I’m protecting myself in some way because it’s too much, too unfathomable to take on the system of male wardens or patriarchy. So we just go after this less than 1%.
[00:37:15] Sophia I really do think in the ways we get it wrong, we aren’t. We are thinking everyone that we’re clearly messaging to gets the same facts in their you know, in their phones all day long as we do. And that’s just not the case. So we’ve got to get smarter about.
[00:37:30] Jameela Well we’re not allowed to look into the silos. We’re not allowed to even converse with those people as we’re considered embracing it or platforming like we’re calling to cut it on both sides politically, calling to cut people off who have different political opinions, like none of this is going to work. We have to be in the trenches together because we have a way bigger enemy when united. If we really look at things, the people who benefit from all of us turning on each other are not giving any of us, regardless of our political ideology or political like feelings the health care that we need, the support that we need, the social support, the wage gap verses the mortgage gap like they all these crazy things are happening, food being poisoned, big sugar dominating the United States of America.
[00:38:10] Sophia Yeah it’s broken for all of us.
[00:38:11] Jameela Yeah, Big Pharma like everything is a nightmare and we’re all just sitting there like, picking at each other. We can unpack this stuff, but also discuss the fact that we have living countries that exist right now, places like New Zealand or places like certain parts of Europe. Obviously fascism is rising in, you know, oh God too many European countries. But we have seen what happens when we create equalities. We create tolerance like and it’s not is not a utopia. Like, we’ve seen what happens when they when they take away assault rifles, but mass shootings go down like, yeah.
[00:38:48] Sophia We did it here. We had the assault weapons ban and and when it lapsed, it wasn’t voted back in because politicians were taking money from the NRA. It’s marketing. And the fact that we allow marketing money to matter more than our kids is insane. But I, I feel really bolstered when we look at other places that are coming up with incredible solutions. When we look at, as you said, great examples from New Zealand, from Finland, you know, even Copenhagen and the water project that they did years ago. There is so much inspiring work happening around the world. And when you look at, you know, the happiest countries on earth, you go, we could do that. We could make a couple of changes. We could do that. And and by the way, we would all flourish. It’s just about figuring out how to get underneath these blankets of [inaudible]. That encourage infighting rather than community success.
[00:39:42] Jameela For sure. And also, like, for anyone who kind of feels hopeless, I’m sure that Berlin is not a perfect place. I only spent like three months there last year. But given where Berlin has come from, right, and they have reminders us of it all over the entire city, you can’t swing a cat for a reminder of what they did. That was incredibly fucked up. But the place has turned into somewhere that is so gay and trans friendly and sex friendly, like they don’t demonize sex. It doesn’t feel like a theocracy over there. Neighbors help one another. Women walk safer through the streets. You know, I’ve spoken about it once this podcast before, but I remember being stunned by seeing this gorgeous woman eating pizza alone at 11 p.m. at night outside a pizzeria. And she had her headphones on already like woman with headphones on at 11 p.m. and like beautiful woman and young woman alone headphones on, and she doesn’t even look nervous. You can tell that those cortisol levels are on the floor. She’s just sitting there, she’s looking in, listening to a podcast. She’s staring into space. She’s not like gripping a handbag or looking around her and she’s got every right to she’s not being bothered by a single man. They are just coming and going and leaving her to it. And I, I was like, how sad that I am so stunned by this, like how sad that I could go for a 9 p.m. walk and I feel pretty fucking safe and I get home without having even been fucking looked at twice by a man. I was like, What? And that’s just the we’re just talking about one particular type of safety. But again, the tolerance and the growing racial like diversity that I was like, This is a fucking social experiment that you don’t, but you can come from the fucking brink of complete madness and pull it back to become somewhere that everyone feels like a part of something really good. And the people come together in such a stunning way.
[00:41:38] Sophia And isn’t it interesting to acknowledge that the only way that it’s possible is by telling the truth about where you’ve been.
[00:41:45] Jameela Honestly.
[00:41:46] Sophia You’ve got to. And you know these people who want us to erase our history here, it’s unfathomable to me it happened. It’s not up for debate. You know, everything that this country has done happened. Imagine if we could just. Agree to let the truth be the truth and then move on to make it better. The the amount of energy that is wasted by humanity, by the fighting over what we’re going to acknowledge and what we’re not. Let’s just acknowledge who we’ve been and how we became this way, and then work on community solutions. But again, the community solutions are the threat to the top of the patriarchy pyramid. So they want us fighting about, you know, what books our kids should be reading in school. I will never forget listening to one of those school board meetings, and this mom was like my you know, my son came home from a lesson about the Holocaust and was just destroyed. And I was like, Lady, that’s a sign that you’re doing a good job. You’re not raising a sociopath. Imagine if your teenage boy came home and was like, Yeah, genocide. Wow, that was a cool history lesson mom. You would. You would have a problem. Like, you’re supposed to be mortified by the worst things that humanity has ever done so that you can be a person who would never allow it to happen again.
[00:43:09] Jameela And we can all be reassured in what little shits we were once and how much we have changed and how much reform we’ve seen and other human beings, maybe within our families or our social circles. Like we know that human reform is so possible only if you are willing to not gaslight people about the past and move through it and move on. And and I think that as long as we can also as a culture, as a social culture, embrace change and not always tie people to all the mistakes they made before. Then we can further motivate people. If we don’t motivate people by saying, okay, you know, I actually see the work you’re doing. I see your growth. I’m going to stop treating you as the exact person you were before. Then I think we also have a better chance of that. I think I think grow growing in our tolerance, understanding of each other and our hope. Like we’re becoming hopeless. And it’s so vitally important that we don’t lose that right now. We need it more than ever. And I think you have that hope and I have that hope. And even though it seems like we’re probably shouting all the time we’re shouting because we have hope, because we believe in change, that’s what activism and advocacy is, is a fundamental belief in change, therefore a move towards it. And and so what how would you encourage young people out there who are listening to this who identify with you in some way? What are some things that you would encourage them to do if they’re feeling because a lot of people aren’t at the beginning of their journey. Let’s be real post 2020, a lot of people jumped in and then a lot of people got very afraid. And then some people got burnt out because they were supposed to then be across perfectly every issue. I know you face that as a public figure.
[00:44:47] Sophia Yeah, God forbid you miss one news story and then everyone tells you you’re a nightmare and you don’t believe in anything you say you believe in. You’re like, I was just sick yesterday. I’m sorry.
[00:44:56] Jameela Yeah, exactly.
[00:44:57] Sophia I just literally needed to take a nap. I didn’t see it. What’s going on?
[00:45:01] Jameela But we. Yeah, We have a growth in, like, fatigue and intimidation. And how do we. How do we oversee that and how do we override that in ourselves? And how would you hope that they can override it?
[00:45:13] Sophia Listen, I think you’ve got to be kind to yourself. I also think we’ve all got to like this idea of perfect non fire. It’s so toxic. I think what I have found matters to me is I’m really trying trying to just go for a walk in my neighborhood for 20 minutes every morning to give myself 20 minutes of just fresh air and self-care. It’s actually really hard for me. And then to say, give yourself another 20 minutes where you dig in to what’s going on around you. So if that means, you know, creating a list of people that you follow, who you trust for their opinions, you know, that might be, us at I am a voter, encouraging young people to get out and and vote and change their futures. It might be following the NRDC. It might be following, you know, someone like Brittany Packnett Cunningham, who’s going to let you know exactly what’s going on in her community and, you know, is on the news all the time being an incredible voice of reason. Like there’s so many wonderful human beings. It’s people that you’re cultivating. It’s it’s me really trying to use my platform as my own version of a news outlet and make sure that every day in my stories, things that are important are getting eyeballs. Do what you can and follow people you trust. And to your point, if someone that you know or care about says something that doesn’t quite track, if you can tell they’re getting one of those scary silos infiltrating their space, maybe just say, Where did you hear that? What made you believe that? Can I. Can I send you something about this that I happened to know about it? It doesn’t have to be a full on, you know, 12 hour a day job that you add on to your job. But it can really be. It can be something that with a little bit of nurture every day. You feel more informed, you feel more equipped, the people around you feel loved. That that would be my encouragement is be gentle with yourself, take breaks when you need to, and in the ways you want to love your community. Try to make sure you’re loving yourself, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day.
[00:47:31] Jameela My my roommates and I have created now like an information curfew between like five and seven is when we look at politics and can talk to each other about politics. And it’s like you. So so it just like I finished my day at five. It’s not the first thing I see in the morning because then I just start off with, like stress and terror about the state of the world. And so I, I get my work done. I have my time with my dogs or with my boyfriend and with my friends. And then at 5 p.m. 7 p.m. it is fucking go time. I’m going to go fucking look into everything. I’m even going to look at the things that are opposing my very rights to see what people are thinking and why and who’s telling them these things. And I’m going to. But I’m careful with it because I don’t want to like increase the algorithm in their favor too much. But but, but those giving yourself giving myself anyway work for me a boundary as to how often I’m allowed to take in information that’s literally creating a dysfunction in my hormones because of how stressed I’ve been.
[00:48:34] Sophia Cortisol and everything.
[00:48:35] Jameela Yeah, yeah. How much that’s impacted my estrogen, etc.. Like I think I’ve seen like a physical severe impact on my sleep and on my hormones and on my period and everything, partially from my environment. So that can also be the food they eat, etc. but also massively feeling like I have to be informed 24 hours of the day and I have to be a first responder publicly when I don’t have all of the data and then I fuck up my communication. Or I platform the wrong person by mistake. And so it has given me a calm away and I highly suggest those hours is before you eat. It’s away from dinner time, another time that it’s important for you to feel rested and calm so you get your nutrients and far away from sleep. So yeah, but we don’t because we get into large long political conversations otherwise at my household, so we don’t get anything done. So, now, now that’s just an option for some people that I’ve started adopting and maybe you can take that on as well.
[00:49:34] Sophia That’s wonderful. Yeah, I like that a lot. I think I’ve really tried to make sure it’s not my first thing in the morning. I don’t know that I could wait till five, but I do think maybe splitting the window and giving myself a morning and an afternoon time might be a nice experiment.
[00:49:50] Jameela Just need that you need that hit of that news.
[00:49:54] Sophia I just don’t think I could wait all day, you know? I know things are happening, but I. I have definitely something that we instituted in our house, which has made a big difference is we have alarm clocks on each side of our bed.
[00:50:09] Jameela So no phones.
[00:50:11] Sophia There are no screens in our bedroom whatsoever. No phones in the bedroom. There’s no wake up and open the phone. When you turn off the alarm and start scrolling, it’s it’s a nonstarter.
[00:50:21] Jameela And there I was thinking you were both listening to my podcast 24 hours a day on your phones.
[00:50:26] Sophia Just laying in bed.
[00:50:27] Jameela You fucking traitor.
[00:50:28] Sophia Scrolling listening.
[00:50:30] Jameela Following my Instagram and my Twitter. I’m hugely disappointed, and this is a really sour note to end this on. No
[00:50:40] Sophia Little broken hearts club over here.
[00:50:40] Jameela I think it’s great. I think you’re great. This is not the chat that we intended to have. We we had a whole mental health thing
[00:50:44] Sophia We had a whole other plan.
[00:50:45] Jameela We were going to talk about. You’re going to have to come back another time.
[00:50:48] Sophia Okay.
[00:50:48] Jameela But the thing is, is that you just speak so beautifully about things in a way that is so un inflammatory and fact based and science based. And right now we don’t have enough people who are who have big platforms, who are coming from a place of kindness rather than condescension. And you are so firm and everything that you fight for, you are unforgiving in in the right, in the ways that that feel incredibly careful and important. And you’re a very considered person. And and it’s very, very hard to maintain being considered when these things are directly emotionally impacting you. You and I feel very, very emotional about abortion rights being taken away about many about our friends, our neighbors being impacted, having their rights taken away, rights that we are still able to retain. Like, this is emotional labor and not just emotional labor. This is emotional. It’s an emotional situation. It’s very hard to keep your cool. And I feel like you’ve done a lot of personal mental health work on yourself.
[00:51:46] Sophia Yeah. To be able to figure out where to put the very real grief and the very real rage and the frustration and the stress and and to give it its own space so that it’s not the reactionary thing that I immediately carry into every space with me has taken a long time. But.
[00:52:07] Jameela How do you do that, by the way?
[00:52:10] Sophia I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s. It’s a practice. It’s. It’s really something that I’ve had to learn. You know, I. I signed up for my first political campaign in 2007, and I was working on environmental campaigns before that. I’ve just been doing this for a really long time, and. Sometimes I’m I vent about how mad I am. Sometimes I draft tweets that are vicious and then I don’t send them. I draft them and then I save draft.
[00:52:39] Jameela That’s the difference between you and me.
[00:52:39] Sophia And then I calm down, you know, And that’ll probably come as a surprise to the people who think I’m a real asshole on the Internet. But it takes work. But yes, you know, my goal is to is to try to bring as many of us together as possible. And sometimes I literally go. Is this going to welcome anyone in or is this only going to talk to people who think the way I do already? Ask myself those questions every day. And I also realize that part of my calling and part of my skill set is this work and everyone has different skill sets. Some people don’t want to speak in public, but they’re incredible artists who can, you know, design the whole look of a of a campaign or, you know, come up with a rallying cry. That’s not my spiritual gift. I can’t even draw a stick figure like beginning to learn that we all have gifts to offer. And again, I think if we if we gather in community and then figure out how as a collective, we can effect better change, everyone can have a seat at the table, everyone can participate. Those are all the things I think I’ve learned over the years.
[00:53:45] Jameela And, you know, and people have the capacity of change. We can’t lose that optimism now of all times. Just to say it one last time, Optimists are going to be at the heart and the forefront of of saving our culture. Saving it for everyone. The people who who think they’re going to be threatened by measures we take to create a more equal and sustainable world, they will also benefit. They have no idea how harmed they’re going to be by the practices of their law makers because they’re being so consistently lied to. And for them and and us, I want I want us to believe that we can do it because we can. They did it. They did it. Go to Berlin. You’ll see.
[00:54:33] Sophia We’re going to do it.
[00:54:34] Jameela Honestly, Berlin changed everything for me, it changed my approach. It changed my belief. It reinvigorated me. And it remains now in my in my mind constantly as to as to what we can be so easily because we are a powerful place.
[00:54:54] Sophia When someone shows you another path forward, you realize how good it can be you. You know, we have more options. You know, there’s suddenly another door we can walk through. And I think it’s thrilling.
[00:55:06] Jameela Well, I have loved sitting down with you. Please come back again so we can have the mental health conversation.
[00:55:11] Sophia I’d love to.
[00:55:12] Jameela You’re a fucking gem. And I so appreciate you. And I’ll text you between my five to seven hour window so we can vent about politics.
[00:55:18] Sophia Please. Oh, my God. Great. We can. We can vent together.
[00:55:23] Jameela But before you go, I just want to ask you, what do you weigh?
[00:55:30] Sophia I weigh community. Dedication. Curiosity. Love. And showing up.
[00:55:39] Jameela Lovely. Thank you.
[00:55:41] Sophia Thank you, my dear.
[00:55:45] Jameela Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher Premium by going to Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 18186605543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
[00:56:37] Listener My name is Maya. I weigh the love of my two young nieces who admire me so much. Without question, I weigh my relationship with my family. I weigh my journey into womanhood as a transgender woman. I weigh my close friends who are chosen family. I weigh my ability to create great art. And. I weigh my spirituality and the love of art.
Recent EpisodesSee All
June 1, 2023
EP. 165 — Ask Jameela Anything with Beth Stelling
Guest Beth Stelling
Comedian and friend Beth Stelling joins Jameela this week to answer listener questions about how to feel happy about one’s weight heading into their wedding, how to move past exercise anxiety, how to be content while single, how to help friends celebrate their own bodies, and more.
May 25, 2023
EP. 164 — A Journey of Healing with Jamie Windust
Guest Jamie Windust
Author and speaker Jamie Windust joins Jameela this week to share about their personal journey of trauma and healing.
May 18, 2023
EP. 163 — The Writers’ Strike with Megan Amram
Guest Megan Amram
Writer on Parks & Recreation and The Good Place, and showrunner on Bumper in Berlin -Megan Amram – joins Jameela to break down what is happening with the writers’ strike.